U.S. hits 50% milestone; 12- to 15-year olds are next in line; schools offering prizes for vaccines
Tuesday marked a milestone as the U.S. tries to hit herd immunity — or something very much like it — in its fight to suppress the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
CNN reported that 50 percent of America’s adult population has been vaccinated, and that half of the 50 states plus territories have reached that same milestone. Just 39 percent of the entire population has been fully vaccinated, but with teens and tweens now approved for vaccines, the overall number should reach 50 percent soon.
Just 14 percent of kids aged 12-15 have been vaccinated so far, while the number jumps to 34 percent of 16- and 17-year olds.
In order to convince their students to help the country suppress the virus, some schools have turned to incentives such as food trucks, prizes, mascots and other pep-rally style inducements.
Other countries, particularly India, are dealing with major outbreaks still. That means while Americans may feel like partying pretty hard this summer, there’s still some caution needed when anyone visits a foreign country. In fact, vaccination “passports” are still in development, and may be used by some airlines, countries and other destinations. Here’s one story about how they’ll work.
Here’s what you can do
Now that teenagers are getting the vaccination, it’s time to do that story about whether your school, community, district or state is looking at incentivizing vaccination. Do your classmates need incentive to be vaccinated? Do they want to? How do their parents feel? Is there an anti-vaxx movement in your community or school? Has your state hit the 50 percent mark? If not, why not? Will it ever? Are students at your school traveling abroad this summer? Where? What extra precautions will they take?
Tennessee officially makes critical race theory a taboo subject
Tennessee’s governor this week signed a bill into law restricting how race and bias can be taught in schools. In the state legislature’s crosshairs was something we talked about last week in the Scroll, critical race theory, or the idea that you can’t fully understand U.S. history without also examining the role that racism has played in that history.
The conflict about CRT is in its interpretation. Scholars who specialize in the subject argue that racism shaped America and still has an impact on our day-to-day lives. Those who don’t want it taught in schools say that it … well, I’ll let Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s aide explain.
Casey Black, the governor’s press secretary, said “(Lee) believes Tennessee students should be taught history and civics with facts, not divisive political commentary.”
Black and others argue that white students are made to feel responsible for racism.
Tennessee, Oklahoma and Idaho are the three states that now have laws against teaching CRT — typically a college-level class. Iowa’s governor is expected to sign a bill into law as well. Texas’ senate and North Carolina’s senate have passed bills that will go to those states’ Houses of Representatives, where they are also expected to pass.
Here’s an article that breaks down the Republican strategy behind influencing school boards to support these bills and how Democrats may combat those efforts.
Here’s what you can do
As we noted last week, if you live in one of the states targeted by these bills, start asking teachers and administrators how will it change instruction in your social studies classes and in other curricula as well. If you’re not in one of those states, will you be soon? How different would your classes look — if at all — with a ban on critical race theory?
Further, this is an issue that has become a hot-button in local school boards? Has your school board discussed it? Will they? Do you even know the members of your school board? They make decisions at every meeting that affect your lives and your education. Do you hold them accountable by reporting on those decisions and their impact?
BLM spread criticized
North Carolina yearbook journalists catch heat for … uh … doing journalism
One of the more unfortunate news cycles of the year is May/June when a few parents, school board members and others get their knickers in a twist about something in a school yearbook.
While there have been a few interesting yearbook stories this year, the most disheartening comes from Alamance County, North Carolina, where a spread on students’ involvement with Black Lives Matter — in a “Year in Review” style section — has caused consternation and an unnecessary debate about what “should” be in a school yearbook.
The Alamance-Burlington school board meeting this week ended in shouting as some parents rose to complain about the Southern Alamance High School yearbook’s BLM spread.
One parent said that the spread “promotes riots and not peaceful protests, more or less saying nothing will be done without a riot.” Others raised the old canard that yearbooks shouldn’t have controversial or even newsworthy elements, but should instead be pure public relations tools.
One recently graduated Southern Alamance alumnus wondered how this became a big deal, considering what was in last year’s book.
“If the yearbook isn’t supposed to be political, then why was that allowed?” Zach Clemmons said. “There was no rage on Facebook. There was no name-calling of a 16-year-old on Facebook about a Blue Lives Matter flag being here.”
Here’s what you can do
The first thing that needs to be done is to make sure your entire community — students, parents, administrators, business persons, school board members — understands that a yearbook is journalism, and that journalism’s job is to report on events that affect people’s lives. No politics? All we can do here at Quill and Scroll is cite the old axiom: “You might say you don’t do politics, but politics will do you.”
Quill and Scroll chapters should be actively promoting the power of good journalism, that’s for sure. How about scheduling a presentation for your administrators, school boards and others about the rights and responsibilities that you embrace as journalists, and how you take care to produce thoughtful journalism in line with Quill and Scroll’s eight guiding principles: truth, learning, leadership, loyalty, initiative, integrity, judgement and friendship.
But it’s also an opportunity for you to think about practicing Solutions Journalism, a discipline that has been developed over the last eight years in response to criticism of journalism that seems only to focus on problems. Of course, BLM itself is seen by its members as a movement seeking to implement solutions to unjust killings. Clearly, we don’t all view the world in the same way.